Saturday, September 25, 2010


Katja with flowers and sling

Dear George,

I’d just finished watching the Daily Show on Thursday night and was brushing my teeth when I heard a loud noise from the room next door. I rushed in and Katja was lying prone, face down on the floor. The dogs were leaning over her, clearly distressed. She’d been standing on a stool, trying to reach a book on the top shelf, and had lost her footing and crashed to the floor. She seemed in a state of shock and said she’d either broken her arm or dislocated her shoulder. I helped her turn over and asked if she could lift her right arm. She couldn’t move it at all. We decided to go to the emergency room at University Hospital.

We got to the hospital a little after midnight. I left the car in the driveway, and we went through the metal detector at the front door. For people coping with an emergency, it’s an unpleasant nuisance to have to empty your pockets or put your purse through an x-ray machine, but they probably have reasons. There’s a mini-police station just inside the entrance with police officers stationed at the front and the back doors.

They were pretty efficient in registering Katja, perhaps because she was crying from pain. It suddenly occurred to me that I’d left the car in a “No Parking” zone, so I went out to move it to the garage. When I came back, Katja had been taken somewhere. I asked the reception person if I could join her, and she politely informed me that I couldn’t because of privacy concerns for other patients. She reassured me that I could go in if she were assigned her own bed.

We were told that the emergency room was quieter than normal that night, but it seemed pretty busy to me with twenty or thirty people in the waiting room. It was a motley group. A twenty-year-old woman named Jody arrived with what appeared to be her sorority sisters. I think she was suffering from a drug or alcohol overdose, and a resident came out immediately to check her vital signs. There were a lot of overweight, even morbidly obese people, some of the males looking like former football linemen who had gone to seed. Others were tall and gaunt with faces like roosters. A little kid was crying endlessly, and his twenty-something mother in a wheelchair couldn’t seem to do much to calm him down. A young woman was dressed in a colorful floor-length African dress, and her bearded husband wore mufti clothes. Five people from a single family arrived, noisy and cracking jokes, disrupting the somber tone of the emergency room.

I tried to nap in a chair, but was unsuccessful, so I bought some M&M’s. After an hour and a half a uniformed woman escorted me back to Katja’s bed. She’d been x-rayed and diagnosed with a broken arm. It was clearly hurting a lot. An RN strapped a sling on her, and that process hurt even more. The nurse said Katja had a crack in her humerus bone, up near her shoulder. She said there was nothing to do but to keep it in a sling and rest it until it healed. It would take weeks and weeks. Then we got to go home where the dogs were waiting for us, unaccustomed to late night departures.

Katja saw the orthopedic doctor the next morning. He tested her finger and hand movement and seemed relieved when she was able to do everything he asked. He said that surgery wouldn’t be needed. Katja’s arm would hurt a lot for the first several days and that it would take about four weeks before she could drive. She wouldn’t be able to do much else with her right arm till then either. He gave her a two-day prescription for oxycondone and said he’d see her in a week. Katja told me as we left that her doctor has climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest.

As I write this, it’s nearly 48 hours since Katja’s accident. She’s been pretty much bed-ridden, partly because she’s taking strong pain medication and partly because any sort of movement hurts. Her injury is a real bummer. Her job requires driving to clients’ homes and doing computer work, both of which have been temporarily derailed. Plus daily living without a right arm is a hassle. On the bright side, Katja’s fall was so scary that she is probably fortunate to have only suffered a cracked bone. We hope four weeks will go by quickly. Right now it’s going along a second at a time.



G-Mail Comments

-Linda (9-29): Just read so so sorry, katja how do you feel now? It seems like a painful and awkward place to have a break. Will write later I just hadn't checked all my messages

-Vicki L (9-27): Dear David and Katja - especially Katja! Sooo sorry to hear about your kerplunk and broken arm - ouch ouch ouch. In fact, this has been quite an ouchy/owey decade for you. May you rest up so the good times can roll. Flowers are a good beginning. Sending my love. Vicki

-Phyllis SS (9-26): Dear Dave, How awful for both of you. I am so relieved that she won't need surgery. Please give her our best wishes for a speedy, pain free recovery. Best, Phyllis

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